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What defines a great individual? Their actions, is what defines whether they are great or poor. If their actions are noble, they will be great. They are noble if they show wisdom and care towards others. The character of King Leer, in William Shakespeare’s play of the same name, is betrayed by his own daughters, then falls into insanity. In this state he becomes compassionate and caring to those around him as well as a wiser man.

First of all, King Leer demonstrates compassion outside in the storm. After being disrespected by his daughter Goneril, King Leer departs to Regan’s palace. During the journey they stop for rest at Gloucester’s castle. To King Leers surprise he finds his servant Kent, in stocks. It is very disrespectable to punish a servant of the King; it is equal to a direct insult to the King. Then King Leer discovers it was Regan, his daughter, who has passed this judgement on his servant. This betrayal pushes King Leer into angry rage and madness. He leaves the castle during the great storm with only his Fool as companion. Outside in the storm, when they find shelter King Leer show’s compassion to the Fool

“My wits begin to turn./ Come on my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?/ I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?/ The art of our necessities is strange,/ That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel./ Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart/ That’s sorry yet for thee. (III, ii, 68-7)

King Leer shows signs of insanity at the beginning of this quotation. He is going crazy because both of his daughters have betrayed him. Then he displays compassion to the Fool. By caring about others, like the fool, King Leer shows signs of greatness and nobility.

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Furthermore, in this state King Leer discovers that all men are equal. After they find Edgar naked in the shelter, King Leer demonstrates wisdom when he says

…Is man no more than this? Consider him/ well. Thou ow’st the worm no silk, the beast no/ hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha!/ Here’s three on’s are sophisticated. Thou are the/ thing itself; unaccommodated man is no more/ but a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art./ Off, off you lendings! Come, unbutton here. (III, iv, 10-110)

During this quotation he is ripping his cloths off so that he can be equal with all men. This is wisdom because he has realised that all men are the same, even Kings and beggars.

In addition, after King Leer realises that he is becoming insane, he regrets not caring for the poor. King Leer realises that he is becoming crazy outside of the shelter when he says, “O, that way madness lies; let me shun that,/ No more of that” (III, iv, 1-). This quote proves that King Lear understands that he is going mad. With that in mind he begins speaking about the impact of this horrible, pitiless storm on the poor; that live in garbage homes with holes in them. Then he says

…I have ta’en/ Too little care of this!/ Take physic pomp;/ Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,/ That thow mayst shake the superflux to them,/ and show the heavens more just. (III/ iv/ -6)

From this we learn that King Lear has become wiser and regrets that he has not done something to help the poor of his country. He had the opportunity to make a difference all his life. Now he is powerless and is loosing his sanity but he has shown signs of wisdom.

In conclusion, King Leer was a wise and caring man, after becoming insane from the betrayal of his daughters. King Leer therefore was noble after suffering much agony. This means that human greatness comes from adversity. In a perfect world with no problems can there be great individuals?

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